As I fly back and forth to Dallas to visit my specialist I am reminded how difficult traveling can be when you have a disability. Simply the preparation, getting through security and arriving to your gate on time are exhausting for non-ill people. Now add in a medical condition (or a few) and it makes this activity twenty times more difficult.
Through trial and error, I have learned that when I make these trips by myself I need to be as prepared as I can so I will expend as little energy as possible. It is the goal to make it through my entire trip without having a spell, so starting the first leg of the trip well is important!
Here are some tips that will hopefully make your next trip go a bit smoother:
Preparation (before travel):
- When you make the reservation for your flight, mark wheel chair assistance needed. If you forget to do this, let the person at check-in know that you would like a wheel chair. This will help you save energy from walking to your gate and standing in line at security. Once you arrive at your destination, a wheel chair will in the jetway waiting for you if you need it. You do not have to use it, but it is better to have it on stand by just in case you do not feel well post flight and not have to wait for the airline to bring one.
- If you do not have a friend or family member picking you up from the airport or are not renting a car, here are a few options to getting around that can be very cheap:
- SuperShuttle – If you have AAA you can get a discount if you book through them
- Hotel Van service
- If you take medicines, never travel without them! Pack all medications in their original bottles in your carry-on bag. Placing a note from your doctor or an educational sheet about your conditions also in the bag may come in handy. Take a couple extra days medication in case you need to stay longer.
- Wear comfy clothes that you can layer. You never know what temperature our body is going to be so it is best to be prepared!
- Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to slip on and off without having to bend down to tie. Going through security can be chaotic and this little step can help prevent you from getting dizzy.
- Wearing compression stockings or socks can be very helpful on fighting blood pooling. My favorite company is CEP and wear them religiously every day.
- Bring salty snacks and plenty of food to munch on. The airport probably does not have food that fits your food allergy list.
- Bring an empty reusable water bottle that you can fill up after passing through security.
- Nuuns electrolyte tabs are your best friend! They are easy to pack because of their small size and will provide you with the electrolytes you need.
- Headphones are a must! With all of noises that are in airports and on the plane, the stimulation can sometimes be too much. Simply putting on some music helps me be able to tune out the world and focus on myself. It’s also quite comforting to wear something over the ears.
- Bring a neck pillow and/or blanket. Anything that will help keep you comfortable and relaxed during your flight.
- Meditation is the KEY when traveling! Being able to centered will help your system not go on the fritz and will help keep you healthy through your whole journey.
I always book my flights through Southwest Airlines because their staff are particularly helpful with wheelchair transportation. Plus they have flexibility of changing or cancelling flights (days and times) if you need to with no change fee. This is a huge perk for me because committing to a date in advance is difficult due to my illnesses. Also, two checked bags are free!
When you are at the airport, do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it! It is not worth putting yourself in a bad situation because you are too embarrassed to speak up.
I hope this helps give you the confidence to fly! Safe travels my friends!